Netflix Shakeup: Chief Marketing Officer Steps Down

Red envelope company will conduct external search to replace Leslie Kilgore, departing chief marketing officer

Last Updated: January 20, 2012 @ 3:40 PM

One Qwikster debacle and a roundly loathed price hike later, Netflix is shaking up its marketing team. 

The red envelope company said that it is seeking a new marketing chief to replace Leslie Kilgore, who stepped down as chief marketing officer on Friday. Kilgore has been with Netflix for the last 12 years; a period that saw the company transform to a rental giant with nearly 24 million domestic subscribers.

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Jessie Becker will serve as interim chief marketing officer while the company conducts an external search for a new CMO.

Kilgore will join the Netflix board as a non-executive director, but the company did not give a reason for her departure and did not say what her future plans would be once she steps down. 

"Leslie has been instrumental in our long-term success and our recent return to solid growth," Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Jonathan Friedland, a veteran of Disney's PR team, has been promoted to chief communications officer. He will report directly to Hastings instead of serving under the marketing chief, according to a Netflix spokesman. 

Recent months have not been kind to Netflix, however. The trouble started in July, when Netflix enraged customers by raising the prices on its most popular subscription plan by 60 percent. 

The company later apologized, but coupled that mea culpa with an announcement that it would spin-off its DVD-by-mail business into a new company called Qwikster. Facing subscriber revolt, Netflix shelved that plan, but the damage was done. Netflix's stock fell from a high of $300 in the summer to roughly $100 in after-hours trading on Friday. 

Kilgore joined Netflix in 2000 after holding various positions at, Procter & Gamble and Booz Allen and Hamilton. 

Becker has most recently been vice president of marketing, in charge of a variety of acquisition channels. She previously held positions at and Oracle Corp. Becker will report to Hastings.

Friedland joined Netflix in February 2011 from The Walt Disney Company, where he was senior vice president of corporate communications. Before that, he spent over 20 years as a foreign correspondent and editor, mainly with The Wall Street Journal, in the U.S., Asia and Latin America and co-founded the Diarios Rumbo chain of Spanish-language newspapers in Texas.